March 21, 2023
Catch up on the series:
Part 1: Bass Boat Breakdown
Part 2: Bass Boat Interior Repairs
Part 3: Minn Kota Raptor Install
Part 4: Bass Boat Repower
Part 5: BBT Custom Dash Graph Mounts
Welcome to Part 6 of “Outdated to Updated.” To run modern electronics effectively with as little frustration as possible, you need adequate and clean power. There are some calculations you need to run to establish exactly how much power you’re going to require—we’ll get into that down the page. By “clean power” I mean a power source that is not shared with other applications within the boat, you’d be surprised how a livewell, navigation lights and especially cranking the motor will affect how your electronics work—especially long term.
Even if you’re running one or two graphs or the full Monty to the tune of five graphs, Live and 360, shared power is a guaranteed future problem, most likely a phantom power draw. I’ve struggled with this for a long time and finally fixed it by using separate power sources for separate applications.
I use independent power for the trolling motor, independent power for the motor starter, which is shared with the livewell pumps, bilge, dash accessories and gauges and navigation lights. All those smaller items register very light amp draws and don’t deplete the crank battery, even after a full day of use.
Why not power your electronics the same way? Well, read on. That’s the purpose of this installment.
The 36-volt Minn Kota Ultrex is powered by a trio of X2Power Lithium batteries, the motor is cranked by a X2Power 31 Series AGM, and the electronics are powered by a pair of 100-amp-hour batteries—one from Dakota Lithium and the other from Battery Lithium Power. We’ll dig into this below.
The first task was running 6-gauge wire from the front of the boat to the dash and then to the driver’s side rear storage compartment where I planned to stage the additional master power switch, fuse panel and extra batteries.
Running wire of this size certainly requires help. My wire runner Tommy was critical yet again. His long arms came in real handy—as usual. This wire is specifically designed for what we’re using it for. It’s 6-gauge tinned duplex marine-grade wire, so double protected. I went with 6-gauge wire to accommodate all the juice being pulled through it, in this case 6-gauge left some room, or a margin of error to handle a full load from all the electronics and battery power. It was pretty expensive, but a worth-while investment that adds a tremendous amount of confidence. Don’t skimp on your wire.
A wire snake is a mega-handy tool when running wires, we used two of these during this project, and ended up ruining them both and then upgraded—so all good. My partner and I spent a great deal of time together working on this, lots of laughs.
To run the big wire from the console to the rear of the boat, all while keeping it inside the gunnel, I had to pull off the cover plate around the throttle. It was a dozen or so screws and took some reaching and maybe a few bad words, but we got it ran and put back together.
This picture shows where I ran the wires inside the rear storage compartment. The cover plate was already there and came in real handy to access the gunnel to pull the wires through. Easy. This picture shows the dash graph wires, and not yet the big duplex main cable. That’s coming.
This tool is certainly worth owning for this and several other projects you’re likely to encounter. I mentioned it in a previous installment, but here it is again making reliable connections you can be confident in. 10-ton Hydraulic wire battery cable lug/terminal crimping tool.
The Blue Sea Fuse block is a highly rated panel that can handle up to 12 connections, and the box of fuses has you covered for a myriad of uses within this project.
Quality lugs and heat-shrink really solidify the confidence in the rigging. None of this is very expensive, you’ll be glad you got the tinned stuff.
I upgraded to 4-gauge wire for the jumpers used to connect the batteries in parallel. Again, better to go heavy than too light.
Be sure to put the heat shrink on before the lug, or you get to do it twice. And the lug is not reusable. I learned the hard way on this.
An inexpensive heat gun like this one is available on Amazon or at a local hardware store, they are generally less than $30.
The finished jumper cable is ready. Looks good! (Not gonna lie, this is a satisfying process.)
Here’s a shot of the big wire pulled through into the rear compartment. I’ve also dry-fitted the new master power switch and the fuse panel—it’s a good idea to make sure everything is going to work before just going crazy right off the bat. Dry fitting is a good practice.
Here’s the duplex wire pulled through to the rear compartment, and the plate reinstalled. I had to cut out the center tab to neatly accommodate the wires. Almost like it was supposed to.
The duplex wire has been pulled through, trimmed up and finished with lugs and heat shrink.
Pretty neat wiring job, these are now ready to be connected to the fuse panel.
Here I’m working to connect the fuse panel to a master-power switch. This will allow me to cut the power completely when not in use, with the amount of electronics rigged in this system, there would likely be a power draw of some sort, this switch eliminates an unnecessary draw on the power source.
Let’s discuss how to determine the amount of power you’ll need for your electronics set up. The easy part is you can run a Google search for your specific electronics, and the results will come up first. It’s that easy. I generally round up to the nearest whole number, the overestimate provides me a cushion, just in case. Here’s an example. If a Humminbird Helix 10 draws 2.7 amps per hour, we’ll round that up to 3, and multiply that by four, so you’ve got 12 amps per hour you need to cover. If you generally plan to fish for 8 hours, you’ll need approximately 36-amp hours to cover your day. To be safe, a 46-amp-hour battery would be your best bet for that specific scenario. I fish many days dawn until dark, and planned for about 10 hours or more, and with the overall five-Helix rigging, Mega 360 and Mega Live, I calculated a little over 140Ah would be required for a very long day. So, I paralleled two 100Ah lithiums to cover everything. A little overkill, yes, but it’s worked perfectly. Make sure you pick fuses that are just over the amp draw, for example, use a 3-amp fuse for a unit that pulls 2.7 amps.
Getting all the wires finished up to make the final connection to the fuse panel.
Here is the fuse panel installed with one fuse in it. There are 12 positions to be used, so I can upgrade a bunch if need be. But it’s clean and effective.
This image shows a couple connections and the uses to match. Quite satisfying, again.
This is the power management system all put together and ready for power. Clean and functional. Oh, and be sure to label each connection so you are able to quickly recognize which is which, this will minimize troubleshooting efforts if a problem ever arrises. Looks pretty good, if I may say so myself.
Here’s the broader view of the finished switch and panel install.
I grabbed a couple TH Marine Battery Trays to keep both batteries in place. I knew there would be some bouncing around and they would certainly slip back and forth. I had a plan. These trays were very helpful for securing them in place.
The Dakota Lithium and Battery Lithium Power batteries connected in parallel supply more than enough power to the graphs and transducers.
I attached both TH Marine Battery Trays to a piece of marine-grade plywood, which sits in the bottom of the compartment. I left the one end of the plywood a little longer so the batteries wouldn’t slid into the switch and fuse panel. I keep a few trays of tackle in the front of the storage bay, so the whole system doesn’t move at all.
True story, both graphs turned on the first try. Talk about a fun, educational and satisfying project, but to have it all work without a glitch, is the best part. That doesn’t happen often to me. I’m happy with it for sure.
Since the creation of this feature, I’ve upgraded the battery program to reduce the footprint and earn some of the storage space back. We’ll get to that improvement in a later installment. More to come!